By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — A Philadelphia man has been charged with robbing postal service workers and kidnapping after police say he forced a postal worker into a mail truck and made her drive him around at gunpoint before he fled with several packages. James Chandler, 54, was ordered to be detained until trial during a federal court appearance on Friday. A phone message left with attorneys at the Defender Association of Philadelphia was not returned.

The indictment alleges that Chandler robbed two uniformed postal workers in separate incidents on Jan. 11 and Feb. 4. During both incidents, he used a replica handgun to force the employees into their postal trucks and stole packages.

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“While the carriers went about their job, delivering the many items that residents of the city depend upon, including medications, bills, benefits, and all the other items that help folks manage through this cold snowy winter and the pandemic a little easier, Mr. Chandler kidnaped them with what looked like a gun, and ransacked their postal trucks, looking for items he thought he could sell for a few dollars,” Damon Wood, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Philadelphia Division, said

The kidnapping charge stems from the February incident, when authorities allege Chandler forced the postal worker at gunpoint to drive him for several blocks in her mail truck before stealing packages.

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“Targeting and violently assaulting employees of the United States Postal Service is a federal crime that will be investigated and prosecuted swiftly by this office,” Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said. “Mail carriers provide an essential service to nearly every citizen, oftentimes going above and beyond to execute their duties in challenging circumstances. If you choose to kidnap or rob a mail carrier, I guarantee you will feel the full force of the federal government come down on you in the form of intense investigation and aggressive prosecution.”

The charges carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.

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(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)